Years ago, my best friend and I traveled around Italy together, a trip that included Venice, Florence, Rome and Sorrento. After first spending a few days in beautiful Venice, we took a train down to Florence. Enjoying the prospect of relaxing between cities, we settled into our seats for the three to four hour journey, a little exhausted from our adventures in Venice and needing the rest before our longer stay in Florence. The train seemed like the perfect way to travel with its freedom to move about, convenient dining car, and the gentle, meditative swaying along the tracks. What we didn’t expect to encounter were the hawkers that regularly board these local trains, trying to sell you their wares and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Most of these enterprising individuals would accept a gentle brush off and move on. But one in particular, spying two young American women seated together, overstayed his welcome until finally I had to raise my voice, wave my hand and impatiently say, “Basta!”
Now you’re probably thinking I shouldn’t have called him such a nasty name, but let me explain that the word basta means “enough!” in Italian. Conveniently, this is one of the few words I remembered from studying my Rick Steves’ travel guide to Italy, perhaps because it is so similar to that other word that you were just thinking. And it worked like a charm. The hawker closed his mouth and moved on immediately, leaving us in peace for the rest of our journey.
Most of us know when we’ve had enough. Right now, you’ve probably had enough of winter. We know when we’ve had enough food because we feel full. We know when we’ve had enough sun because our skin gets red and we begin to look like a Coppertone ad. Enough means we’re done, we satiated, we don’t need any more.
The flip side of enough is not enough. This is an all too familiar feeling for most of us. We don’t have enough time, enough money, enough energy, enough fun. Even worse, we may feel like we aren’t enough. Not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not thin enough, not loved enough. The list goes on and on. But the real question to ask is not enough for who? According to whose standards? Who is doing the judging? Is it your mother or father, is it your spouse, is it your kids, or are you judging yourself?
Be kind to yourself. Don’t let this limiting thought hold you back. I rejected myself as a writer for too long because I thought I wasn’t educated enough, wasn’t literary enough, wasn’t good enough, wasn’t clever enough. In the end, I decided none of those things mattered. All those thoughts were potential judgments from other people. What was important is what I thought about myself. The truth is that I was disciplined enough to finish a novel. I was smart enough to get honest helpful feedback on it. I was resourceful enough to figure out how to publish my work. I was brave enough to put myself out there and follow my dream, even if no one else thought it was good enough. I did it for me, not for anyone else’s approval. When you’re the CEO of your own life, you call the shots. You decide what is good enough for you.
The spiritual teacher Louise L. Hay says that the innermost belief for everyone she has worked with is always, “I’m not good enough!”
You are. Stop telling yourself that you aren’t. You are unique. There is no one else like you. Embrace that and own it. Work it!
Next time that niggling thought pops into your head telling you that you may not be enough, do what I did with that annoying guy on an Italian train. Put up your hand and say, “Basta!”